Tale of Two Covers

This coming August, my publisher, Macmillan, will release my historical mystery novel, THE SECOND GLASS OF ABSINTHE, in paperback. The cover design is markedly different between the original hardcover and the new, mass market paperback. In different ways, I like them both.
The older version, shown at left, is special in that it incorporated important elements of the novel. The painting of the woman holding the parrot is a real painting described in the book, only incorporated into the story in a fictional way. The painting is supposed to represent a portrait of the widowed heiress, Lucinda Ridenour, owner of the Eye Dazzler mine.
The absinthe bottle is colored too darkly emerald green to be “real” absinthe, which is a lighter, almost peridot, but, in the cover designer’s defense, absinthe was still illegal in the United States when the first cover was designed, so perhaps the artist did not know what real absinthe looked like. A forgivable mistake.
The “label” on the bottle shows a contemporary illustration of the town of Leadville, Colorado, the setting of the novel. This picture first appeared in Frank Leslie‘s Illustrated News in 1879, the year before the time of the novel, but clearly showing the “city in the clouds” at its busy, raucous best, which the novels details in some length.
The new cover also highlights the absinthe theme, but this time using an absinthe glass with a spoon and lump of sugar as its centerpiece. The color of the absinthe filling the glass is more accurately represented this time around, but absinthe has since been legalized and available at most larger liquor stores in the U.S..
The background again highlights a beautiful, sexy woman, who looks like trouble (that is, I am assuming the artist intended this woman to be Lucinda, rather than the novel’s amateur sleuth, Eden Murdoch, who has an exotic past of her own--detailed in the two prior novels, AN UNCOMMON ENEMY and ABSINTHE’s prequel, SOLOMON SPRING--but has never aspired to become a femme fatale.)
Which is my favorite? I love them both. The cover art is considered to be a major element in the marketing of the book, so I guess the most successful cover is one that entices the most potential readers to try the book. Only time will tell...

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